Today in Disney History, 2019: Disney Skyliner’s Opening Day

by | Sep 29, 2021 | Disney History, WDW Blog

Today we remember the Disney Skyliner’s opening day on September 29th.

“You can fly!” And you don’t need Tink to do it. Two years ago today, Disney started running its newest transportation system, the Skyliner, connecting Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, and four resort hotels. But in the Florida heat, just how comfortable are these things to ride? We have everything you need to know about staying cool 60 feet above the ground.

Flights to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, and More

Disney Skyliner's opening day

Photo by Courtney Reynolds

The Disney Skyliner features gondolas that travel through the air to EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and four Walt Disney World Resort hotels including Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and Riviera Resorts

Hollywood Studios is on a line off the main line, so be sure to pay close attention to where your stop will be and if you need to switch lines if you haven’t taken the Skyliner before. 

Disney Skyliner Map

Disney Skyliner map courtesy of Disney

While EPCOT is accessible by monorail from the Transportation and Ticket Center and via FriendShip boats from Hollywood Studios and the resorts around Crescent Lake, Disney’s Hollywood Studios for most guests was only accessible by bus (or driving themselves).

There are FriendShip boats to Hollywood Studios, too, but those are most useful just for those Crescent Lake resort guests.

As for the resorts on the Skyliner line, Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and the newest Disney resort, the Riviera Resort, have only been accessible by bus and via Skyliner once it opened.

If you’ve stayed at, say, Pop Century in the past, before the Disney Skyliner opened, it’s safe to say that this enhanced form of transportation is quite the upgrade.

Efficiency and Breeziness Are Key

Skyliner Interior not air conditioned - disney skyliners opening day

Photo by Courtney Reynolds

When the Disney Skyliner opened in 2019, guests frequently wondered how they would stay cool 60 feet up. Why? Ahead of the Disney Skyliner’s opening date, news broke that the gondolas would be unairconditioned

Despite not having actual air conditioning, the gondolas provide a comfortable breeze while they are in motion, keeping guests cool despite Central Florida’s hot and humid temps. 

The gondolas also never stop moving. (Well, usually; like any Omnimover-type system, there are reasons they could stop, like letting a guest on who may need a little more time. With these kinds of systems either all of the vehicles need to stop or all of them need to move at the same time.)

Let’s rephrase: In normal operation, the gondolas never stop moving, so not only does the line to board the Disney Skyliner move along very quickly, it also gives you a nice breeze once you’re up in the air to help keep everyone comfortable even on 90-degree days in Orlando. 

Character Artwork

disney skyliner mickey and minnie

Photo courtesy of Disney

One of our favorite things about the Disney Skyliner is seeing which characters you might get on your gondola! Not all of the gondolas feature character artwork on them, but many do and they can be quite fun.

There are characters from hit Disney films and even Marvel and Star Wars movies. You may find yourself soaring to Pop Century with C-3PO and R2-D2 or Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, or perhaps even characters from Frozen or Coco

disney skyliner character wraps

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog.

And for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, the Skyliner debuted a new anniversary wrap for some of the gondolas.

You could even end up aboard a gondola that features artwork of characters from Walt Disney World. It is very impressive that those pesky Hitchhiking Ghosts from the Haunted Mansion have made their way this far from Liberty Square!

Skyliner Crawls

Caribbean Beach Resort - Disney Skyliner's opening day

Photo by Danny Shuster

You don’t need a Disney park ticket or Park Pass Reservation to ride the Disney Skyliner, so I’ve found that taking a Skyliner “Crawl” can be a great way to spend a day at Walt Disney World without a park ticket

There are lots of restaurants you can stop at by hopping off at the resorts along the Skyliner route. You may want to check out something new-to-you from the Riviera Resort for lunch and stop at Pop Century for some fan-favorite tie-dye cheesecake for dessert

You could also disembark at the EPCOT station and take a walk or a FriendShip boat over to the EPCOT area resorts, which include the Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts. The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts alone have 17 restaurants


Photo by Cliff Wang

While near EPCOT, you could grab an ice cream on the BoardWalk or stop for dinner at Ale & Compass while visiting all the shops, bars, and snack spots in between. 

Spending a day on the Disney Skyliner is also a great idea during the holiday season as many of the resorts decorate for the occasion.

Want to know what happens behind the scenes to decorate Walt Disney World Resort hotels? Subscribe by Nov. 30 to get our 🎄 Christmas 🎄 issue, where we take a deep dive into the Halloween-to-Christmas transition. An annual subscription is just $8/month!

christmas tree at grand floridian at disney world

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Have you taken the Disney Skyliner yet? Don’t let the heat scare you away; the gondolas were well-designed to handle Florida’s hot climates, and the views and experience of this new way to get around the Walt Disney World Resort can be lots of fun.

Not sure if you’re going? You can just get more information about a potential Disney vacation.

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Written by Brittany DiCologero

Written by Brittany DiCologero

Brittany DiCologero is a freelance writer specializing in Walt Disney World history, along with various travel, and lifestyle topics based in New England. She is the author of “Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Realities of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort,” and “Brittany Earns Her Ears”. When she is not writing, you can find her exploring local museums and historic sites, and binging documentaries on Disney+.

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